Bottom line: Whoever wins on Tuesday inherits an economy that is still awfully weak and a jobs recovery that's clearly gaining momentum
Here's the lede you'll read in most newspapers today about Friday's jobs report: "The economy added a hearty 171,000 new jobs in October, and the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9%."
Nothing about that lede is wrong, technically. But it's incomplete, for three reasons.
First, the BLS actually discovered 255,000 new jobs. The payroll survey, one of two used to produce this report, revised its jobs-added estimates in August and September by an additional 84,000, bringing August's total to 192k and September to 148k. For months, it looked like the unemployment rate was falling inexplicably fast. It turns out we were counting jobs added too slowly.
Second, and somewhat counter-intuitively, the fact that the unemployment rate went up is good news about today's economy. Calculated in a second survey of households by the BLS, the rate moved to 7.9% as more people entered the labor force. More people looking for work is good news, but when job seekers grow faster than jobs, the unemployment rate ticks up. The rising unemployment rate doesn't mean the economy is getting weaker. It means discouraged workers are feeling more encouraged because the economy is getting stronger.